Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 7

So this may be out of order, but today I am inspired to write about today.  Today was brilliant.  Last night was brilliant.  We went to an Irish pub after an amazing walking tour in the rain of Derry.  Derry is Northern Ireland, but over half the population is Irish Catholic and cheers for Irish football and not Northern Irish and certainly not English.  It is separated by a river.  There is a group of protestants that live on the wrong side of the river, and there are two fenses that 'protect' them from their Irish catholic neighbors.  They have signs all over that say, 'we will not surrender.'  My catholic tour guide says this hurts most of the catholic's feelings because 99% of the people there don't want to hurt them; They care more about the winners of x factor than the protestants living in their midst, he says.  So that was interesting.  The night before that we did a 'black taxi tour' in Belfast and saw the peace wall (and signed it!), and saw a lot of scary murals that imortalized skin heads that fought for their cause of never ever joining the rest of Ireland and staying loyal to the English crown.  It's a complicated issue, but a lot of people died.  10 loyalists went on a hunger strike in jail and lost their lives for their cause.  Today, tension still exists, but the killings have come to a halt.  However, people bomb the hell out of this city.  The walking tour guide, Stephen, who grew up in Derry says that it use to be beautiful, but it's hard when you've had fighting for a couple centuries.  A couple weeks ago a car bomb went off and blew a Kabob shop and a furniture store to smitherines.  The alarm from the furniture store has been going off ever since.

So last night after the walking tour we ended up in one of the most colorful places I have ever visited.  A real dried pig's head with sun glasses and a hat greeted us...as did over 10 other animal carcasses, included several birds, and a shark jaw.   An Irish band belted out famous Irish tunes that I have never hear of and the flutist moved his fingers so fast, I couldn't see them half the time.  It was a scene that belonged in a movie.  I kept hoping an Irishmen would ask me to dance...not that the lack of dancing Irishmen that night slowed me down any, mind you.   I went to bed several hours after my bed time, full of drinks that had been bought, and happy that a place like Ireland exists.  My tourguide's favorite phrase is 'and remember, 5 million Irish people love you...so don't do anythign stupid!'  It's true.  They do love me.  And you.  And anyone else other than the damn people across the river.

Today we woke up, crawled on the bus, and Joe (the tourguide, not redheaded, but in every other way fully Irish) welcomed us to the day after Derry.  Thanks Joe.  We slept for a while, looked at a tomb or house (they're not sure) from 500BC, then saw WB Yeats' grave and most importantly got coffee.  A couple hours and a few kilometers down the road found us in Knock where we drenched ourselves in seawead lotion from the seaweed and massage salon (everything seaweed) and admired the costal scenery.

We arrived in Galway by 4 and had a look around at this tourist capital.  Almost everything here is original.  The streets are tiny, cobblestone, and it's one of the shopping areas that tourists frequent.  I ended up buying the traditional 'claddagh' ring.  The story is that a local man from Galway fell in love with a local woman and since he was going to be away at sea for a couple years he made her this ring.   Her heart in his hands crowned with his love.  Mine heart is right side up.  2 months ago it would have been upside down.  Amazing how quickly things change.

We visited the latin quorter and ended the night at a pub (suprisingly).  Dave, as in Dave from 'Riverdance,' was there.  Him and Pete (from 'Lord of the Dance') and him put on the fastest foot clapping extravaganza I, or anyone else in my American/Aussie/Kiwi group has ever witnessed...I'll post it when I get back to the states.  And I'll say something funny about it when I've had more sleep.  Speaking of which, I should probably get on that.  My mind works quicker and puts together cleverer thoughts when it's rested.  I just wanted to get something up since it's been a couple days.  Don't tell your friends yet...this posting still needs work.  Thanks for reading!

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